Britain's former envoy to Bahrain, Peter Ford, has stated in an interview with Lebanon's al-Mayadeen television network that Bahrain "[has] almost turned into a Saudi and American colony." According to him, such a transformation took place following the Arab Spring protests that broke out in the country, when Saudi Arabia and the US helped Manama cope with them.
The former envoy claims that Bahrain's ruling royal dynasty is afraid that protests may reemerge and is therefore sticking to the policies of the two states that helped it in the past. Ford believes that this explains why Manama is repeating Riyadh's and Washington's the anti-Iran rhetoric and blames Tehran for fueling the protests in Bahrain. The ex-envoy also expressed his opinion that Bahrain should stay away from regional disputes, since it would most likely suffer greatly if a conflict were to break out.
The popular protests began in Bahrain amid the events of the Arab Spring, mostly led by the local Shia majority. According to human rights activists, the clashes between demonstrators and police led to the deaths of 13 policemen and some 80 protesters. Bahrain's government requested Saudi Arabia's assistance in dealing with the riots and beginning March 14, 2011, Saudi sent roughly 1,000 of its troops to the Arab state. Manama has blamed Tehran for supporting the protesters, but Iran has strongly denied the allegations.